It’s a pleasure to guest author a post for John and Brandi’s blog!
It’s entitled “Highs and Lows” as tragedy stuck late in the week
we were with them and we lost a dear member of the family.
Before I get ahead of myself let me start at the beginning.
John and Brandi helped us secure a nice size rental house
in Cozumel for the week we would spend with them. One that
was big enough to accommodate not only John and Brandi but
myself (Goliath) and my wife (Sarah- John’s Sister), my son
Paxton, and John’s (and Sarah’s) parents Dan and Dony. We all
had our own bedrooms and full bathrooms. And there was a
pool, which was somehow kept at about 50 degrees despite the
80 degree + weather we enjoyed all week. Although the pool
man came by a couple times that week to do cleaning and
maintenance on the pool, we never actually saw him put ice in
the pool so he must have been pretty sneaky about it.
Each day of the week we spent in Cozumel we traveled to
a different beach, beach club or resort access to the beach.
Each location had a different make up but was equally
beautiful. We snorkeled and floated on inflatable pickles and
bananas while soaking in the warmth and sun. We left near 0
degree weather in Iowa and it snowed almost a foot while we
were gone so we tried to enjoy every minute of the warmth
and beauty. We spent a day at Playa Azul Beach Club and a day at
Paradise Beach just to name a few. John and Brandi knew all
the hot spots and probably know the names of everywhere
they took us.
Here are some highlights of some of the activities we did
during the week. Dony and Sarah did a lot of Sea Glass hunting.
A lot. It was practically an obsession. They did find a lot of
really cool pieces though! We snorkeled at almost every beach
we went to also. I say “we” but I really mean everyone but
Dony who was off (you guessed it) Sea Glass Hunting.
We saw a lot of really cool fish, stingrays and John somehow managed to
get attacked by a pesky black fish when he dove down and got
too close to his home. Watching John jump when it darted out
from under the rocks at him was hilarious. For reference, it was
about the size of his pinky finger. While we were at Paradise
Beach we enjoyed their water activities which included paddle
boards and they have inflatable floating slides, trampolines and
other obstacles you can climb up onto (sounds super easy-right
Brandi???) and jump off of. It was a day of nonstop laughter
and maybe a little pain. They also had a few of those large
inflatable cushions you see where one person sits at the end
and another person jumps on the other end, launching them
into the air. Pax allowed me (Goliath) to launch him once.
Once. John was on top of the jump off spot one time and a
local father placed his son on the launch spot, encouraging John
to jump. John took a big jump off and launched that poor kid
into next week! People on the beach were all watching,
recording with their phones and clapping and cheering
afterwards. It was hilarious. I will speculate that the son will
forever have Daddy trust issues after that. So when you hear a
farfetched story about a kid being launched high into the air
and hasn’t landed yet, know that it is true. All of it. The arm
flailing, legs midair running, panic stricken face. All true. John
and I thought it would be a good idea to try to launch one
another too. The air John was able to get when I jumped on
the end was legendary. Another activity we did at Paradise
Beach was to try Paddle Boarding. Try. Let me take a second to
say, it doesn’t look that tough from the comfort of your beach
chair with a cold drink in your hand.
Only Brandi, Bree (another friend who was in Cozumel at the same
time) and I were brave enough to try. There was 1 standard
paddle board, 1 with training wheels (that was apparently
impossible to fall off of) and then there was the “expert level”
one. Bree got the one with training wheels, Brandi got the
standard one and I (Goliath) had no choice to try the expert
one. It really amounted to not much more that a floating 2” x
4” that I was supposed to stand on and balance myself on over
waves. Brandi used the strategy of every time she felt herself
falling to try to aim to hit some portion of the board on her way
down with her body. I was in complete survival mode. I
actually was doing really well until the guy who gave us the
boards let go of mine at the shore. I never made it off my
knees to stand up (remember I had the expert board!) and
someone even then managed to fall off every 10 seconds.
Somehow we made it out a ways from shore and Brandi saw a
portion on her board that her body had not hit yet so took aim
for it. In the process of her epic falling and bouncing off it, her
board was sent out in the fishing and cruise ship lanes. I
valiantly rowed out to get it. Sarah, on shore eventually lost
sight of us and alerted the Coast Guard. Bree all the while
never fell and somehow managed to stay completely dry.
Remember she had the training wheels one though. If all that
adventure wasn’t enough, when Brandi and I made it in from
the cruise ship lanes with help from the Coast Guard, she
decided to give John a good whack on the head with her rowing
oar. I guess his nonstop hysterical laughing at us came with a
price. I think I’ll be sticking to my beach chair with my cold
drink from now on. Or maybe Sea Glass hunting doesn’t seems
Food and Drinks: John and Brandi took us to some amazing
restaurants! Breakfasts were spent back at the house and with
a steady stream of Pan Dolce and bread (and cereal for Dan) we
were fueled up for each day’s adventures. Every meal we ate
seemed to be equally as good as the last and yet completely
different. From tacos to pizza to cake and pie to lobster
sandwiches back to tacos again – everything was incredible.
Even “authentic” Mexican food in Iowa is nothing like this. I
even had the best $.50 grocery store sandwich I’ve ever eaten.
I opted for a strawberry cheesecake at a Pie Shop and it must
have had 3 lbs of real cream cheese in it. No, make that 4 lbs.
At the house I took on the roll of official drink pourer when we
would return after a day’s adventure. I came up with nice little
tasty mixed drink that contained a great tasting Tequila and
anything else that happened to be in the fridge. Fruit juices to
sodas, it’s like Tequila tastes good in everything. Our favorite
though became an Apple Soda and Tequila. Tequila was
precisely measured each time by the amount of glugs the bottle
made. Glug, glug for John, Dan and myself. Glug, glug, glug for
Brandi. And glug, glug, glug, glug…..glug for Dony. Cause she’s
special and she’s my mother in law.
Friends. John and Brandi have surrounded themselves with a
great group of friends. We had a chance to attend the
Midweek meeting of Jehovah’s Witnesses where John had a
talk that night. That happens to be the place I was nicknamed
Goliat or Goliath from the Bible. John told this to me too late
though or I would have actually went around introducing
myself as such.
Shop owners, waiters and restaurant owners
alike all were super nice and hospitable. We truly met some
great-new old friends.
So you might be wondering how the 7 of us would get around
the island. Did we have a rental van? Large car? Nope. Why
would we need a van or larger car when we had Frijolito?!?!?!?
We would all “simply” pile into John and Brandi’s Ford Fiesta
they named Frijolito (or little black bean). John or Brandi
driving, 1 in the passenger seat, 3 seated across the back seat
(really meant for 2) Paxton sitting on someone’s lap and 1
person crammed in the hatchback.
Plus any bags with towels,snorkel gear or bags and bags or Pan Dolce. We were quite the
sight to see. Even I, Goliath managed to take a turn or two in
the hatch. The back passenger in the hatch would serve as the
backup camera since all the driver could see thru the rearview
mirror is 4 people stuffed from seat to roof!
The hatch passenger would also serve to tell the carload how many locals
were laughing at us at any given time. It was a lot. All loaded
down the shocks on Frijolito had all of 1” of travel before
bottoming out. Then there was the “Topes” or speed bumps.
Some were normal size of what we would think of for speed
bumps. Others are more of an elevated platform with a ramp
on each side. The driver had to be careful to take those at an
angle for fear Frijolito would become stuck on top of it. Like I
said, we were some sight to see. *insert laughter from the
locals. On the rare occasion that only a couple people had to
run and do something quick instead of all 7 of us going, Frijolito
was rumored to have handled like a Lamborghini.
Tragedy strikes. After 5 days of us all cramming into Friolito,
the over 1200+ lbs of passengers (and luggage) took its toll on
poor little Frijolito. It fought bravely and valiantly right up the
end. But in the end, Frijolto died.
Frijolito was survived by his father, Johnathan and his mother Brandi. He left behind
puddles of oil, power steering fluid and plenty of coolant.
While there may be others along the way, Frijolito will always be
our Little Black Bean. Locals will forever talk about the days
they witnessed 7 people crammed inside its’ cabin and how
unloading resembled a clown car with more and more people
falling out when doors were opened. It was a Saturday
morning when the first real signs of trouble for Frijolito became
apparent. He was suffering and tried not to let others see it. In
a fitting end, one of his last drives home was in a parade (okay
almost- as they were shutting the street off for a parade later.)
Despite that tragic loss, overall the week was amazing. We
want to thank John and Brandi for the week full of guided
tours, tons of laughter and Tequila. Or was that laughter and
tons of Tequila?…. You guys are amazing and set a great
example. We work full time to take a vacation to a place you
live. To all the friends we met along the way, thank you too for
being so hospitable and sharing your island with us.
As my BFF says “never let the truth get in the way of a good
story”. So for anyone who was offended, I was only kidding
and I greatly exaggerated everything. For everyone else, I
might have even tamed the stories down a little.